Behind the Scenes: Rosé of Pinot Noir Debut

Imagery is key when launching a new product and we knew the best person to help capture the essence of Layer Cake’s new Rosé of Pinot Noir: food and lifestyle photographer Matt Armendariz.

We flew down and spent two days in his naturally lit, loft-style photo studio in Long Beach, CA. We were graced with his talent, props, equipment and stylists to help us achieve the perfect shot for our upcoming launch. The goal was to make the wine look as good as it tastes. We succeeded.

Few know just how much it takes to get the perfect shot, especially one as important as this for our new product release. For this, we were extremely grateful to have Matt’s expertise. Once we were happy the the final shot, it was time to bring the ad to life.

That’s when we turned to Zentiv creative agency in Santa Rosa, CA to help the ad jump off the page. You can see our beautiful new ad in the latest editions of Wine Spectator, Food & WineWine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, Sunset and many more. We believe it captures the essence of the wine, and are excited to share it with you all. Cheers.

Wine and Food Pairings for Your Home Brunch

Brunch has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years, and for good reason. Between the upscale food and the tasty cocktails, brunch has everything you need to have a truly relaxing weekend. Many restaurants and wineries have started offering special brunch menus on weekend mornings. But sometimes, you don’t feel like going out. For those days that you want the comfort of your own home, but still want a relaxing brunch with friends, we have some brunch hosting tips for you!

Plan a Theme

Every meal is better with a theme, especially when entertaining! Choose a common element to tie your brunch together. You could choose a region-inspired brunch, serving dishes from places like Italy or New Orleans, and picking décor and music to match.

Or maybe you want a food theme! Try a veggie-only brunch, or pick a main entrée dish and choose sides and drinks to match!

Other themes could include colors, time periods, or even pop culture references. The sky is your limit! Choosing a theme makes it easier for everyone to pitch in while still having a cohesive brunch meal. This way your brunch will be a team effort and no one person will have to do all the work. More fun for everyone!

Think about Prep

If you want your brunch to run smoothly, think about the flow of traffic between food prep and food consumption. Prep as much of your meal as possible before your guests arrive. Put baked goods in the oven as your guests arrive, to be enjoyed after your first drinks.

Create a station for light food and drink prep. If you’re looking for maximum convenience, look at these wine tasting centers that store wine bottles, glasses, and have counter-space for drink prep. With drawers to store your bottle opener and silverware, you can make this your brunch supply station and be ready for brunch any time! Some even have room for seating and double as a table!

Pair Fantastic Food with Wonderful Wine

Now for what you’re really here for: the food! Here are some ideas to get you started planning your brunch meal:

  • Flatbread is a great finger food and easy to pair with other dishes. Try some simple herbs, smoked salmon and prosciutto on grilled flatbread. It’d go great with Layer Cake Chardonnay or a crisp, Sauvignon Blanc to balance out the salt in the smoked salmon.
  • Want your brunch to have fresh, homegrown food? Plan ahead and plant a pesto garden! Then all your brunches can have a lovely pesto for pizza, pasta, flatbread, or bruschetta!
  • Pair a French Toast (or as the French call it, Pain Perdu) with a homemade berry jam and the fruity Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Looking to add some whimsy to your meal? Check out this A-Z guide to edible flowers. There are recipes for rose jam, yucca hash, and more! You can even make your own Dandelion Wine as an after-brunch palate cleanser. Edible flowers are an easy and unique addition to any meal, more information can be found at Sharie’s Berries Guide to Edible Flowers as well.
  • Stock up on your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine and some fresh citrus juices (orange, grapefruit, tangerine, etc.) for a low-maintenance mimosa bar!
  • Want to give your guests an option with a little zing? Try these Buttermilk and Sharp Cheddar Biscuits with Brown Sugar Cured Ham & Pepper Jelly.

These are just a few fun ideas for your next wine-centric brunch with close friends and family. What’s your favorite brunch pairing? Share in the comments!

Submitted by Layer Cake Wines fan, Jeriann Watkins

South Australia: A Wine Oasis

If you thought that all Australia had to offer was poisonous snakes, deadly jellyfish, crazy wallabies and Mad Max you’ve obviously never heard of (or been to) the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale.

Over the last 20 years we’ve checked out Shiraz from every region that is civilized enough to produce it. We found two areas that have over all that time continued to intrigue us – yes, the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale.

Maybe it’s our propensity for adventure, but after many a plane ride, camel caravan, jungle trek, 4-wheel drive excursion, and wagon train journey to more places than we care to admit, we came around to the fact that these two little gems were truly the greatest home of Shiraz in the world and that we had to make our inaugural Layer Cake wine from there.

Separated only by a range of hills, this world-class-wine-producing region set in the southern crook of the country, is an oasis of calm, sun-drenched beauty, warm people, incredibly rich soils, a cool ocean breeze, and original Shiraz cuttings from Europe, predating the destructive spread of phylloxera in the late 1800s.

The Barossa and Mclaren Vale are a rarity; phylloxera has never existed there. These vines live in the land that time forgot. The ancient ones with a direct bloodline dating back thousands of years to the beginning of Shiraz – somewhere in the very cradle of civilization itself. Their offspring were brought to Australia in the 1830s across tumultuous oceans on square rigged wood ships.

Now, we do run across the odd poisonous snake and one of our crew had a sighting of Mad Max (after a very long night overseeing the wine bottling, mind you); however, we can safely say that there are few places that rival the Barossa and McLaren Vale for lowering your blood pressure and enjoying a long day of, well, not doing too much

Other stories and recipes from our journeys can be found in the One True Vine Journal 001. You can purchase a copy here:

The Art of Smoking Meats

The days of 2017 are undoubtedly moving along at break-neck speed, thoughts of a runaway freight train come to mind. With the 4th of July holiday weekend in the past, farmers markets and roadside produce stands are vibrant and bountiful, almost to the point of being overwhelming—in the best way, of course. This is that magical time of year that we develop the uncontrollable urge to be outside every free minute with family and friends, paying homage to the “Backyard BBQ.”

The art of smoking meats is an extremely reliable cooking method enabling one to turn beef, pork, and poultry into a tender, over-the-top flavored dish. Is there a drawback to smoking meats, well maybe…? It takes time, patience and yes, can be intimidating if you’ve never tried it before. With a little education, plus a lot of that time and patience, the rewards far outweigh any concerns. The key to success in smoking meats is the tried-and-true…“Low and Slow”!

Like most aspects of life, one must endure a few rounds of trial and error before any skill is mastered. It is the education that comes from this exercise that improves one’s skill, strengthens confidence using the BBQ/Smoker—and results in exceptional and memorable flavors.

While not an exact step-by-step method to smoking meats, here are the basics:

  1. Always begin with quality meat. This is important; do not compromise.
  2. Start with the meat at room temperature—it is a must.
  3. Season well with a rub. Salt and black pepper never disappoint.
  4. Moisture matters. Use a small pan of liquid in the BBQ/Smoker or baste ritually during the smoking process. Liquids of choice include apple juice, stock, coffee and of course let’s not forget about beer!
  5. Ideal cooking temperature is 225°. For meats that will be smoked longer than 6 hours, I like to bring the temperature down to 180° during those last hours.
  6. Always let the meat “rest.” For larger cuts of meat, such as brisket, first loosely wrap in butcher paper and then rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 125°-130°.

Ok, if you’re like me the wheels are turning and thoughts are racing as to what will be on the BBQ this weekend. Start your shopping list, don’t forget to include some Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz (because you’ll need some for the “time and patience” part, then to enjoy with fruits of your smoking labor) and embrace the adventure ahead.

Good luck and enjoy the process, the tasting, and the smells!

Submitted by Executive Chef, Michael Laukert

From Farm to Butcher

When you encounter the exquisite flavor of a beautiful, hand crafted meat; you must savor it, celebrate it, and spread word of the find. We feel this way every time we eat a thin-as-tissue piece of prosciutto or juicy, intensely flavored pork loin from Fatted Calf Charcuterie.

Our team has come to regard Fatted Calf Charcuterie as a holy place for meat.  No crepinette, no loma, nor any porchetta can compare to the heart-stopping good products created by artisans Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller. Taylor and Toponia focus on charcuterie and butchery, dedicating themselves to the details that produce incredibly tasty food.

Toponia and Taylor started Fatted Calf in 2003 with just $6,000 in a shared commercial kitchen in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. The first company in the area to focus entirely on handmade artisanal salumi, they started out selling directly to customers at the Saturday Farmers Market in Berkeley. Word of mouth caught on, and Fatted Calf started to grow.

Of the many practices that make Fatted Calf unique, perhaps the most significant are the relationships they build with farmers. They focus solely on partnering with small producers who practice sustainable agriculture and husbandry by not using hormones or antibiotics, raising animals on pasture, and in many cases growing their own feed.  They make extra effort to highlight the work of small farmers with deep passion and high standards.  Toponia and Taylor believe that feeding people quality food that is better for them, the environment, and small businesses, that they can change the course of the American food system.

Like many of our neighbors that curate, create and collaborate in the Napa Valley, they too share a love of craft and a vision of quality we all appreciate. When the time came to slaughter our ten, lovingly raised Berkshire hogs, we asked Toponia and Taylor to share their expertise and lend us a hand in processing our meat into charcuterie. We raise a glass to the Fatted Calf every time we share a charcuterie board with our friends and family. We also can’t get enough of their Porchetta recipe and make it all the time (paired with Pinot Noir).

If you haven’t found yourself at a Fatted Calf, or worse, if you have never tried Fatted Calf products, we recommend you immediately get yourself to one of their two locations, grab a few Layer Cake wines on the way home and get to enjoying life.

Other stories and recipes from our journeys can be found in the One True Vine Journal 002. You can purchase a copy here: